The following guest opinion was submitted to Boise officials as testimony regarding the proposed zoning ordinance change.
Guess Opinion by
Boise currently allows between 15 to 45 dwelling units per acre, sometimes more, and under the proposed Zoning Code those numbers remain but, in some cases, unlimited density is allowed.
Contrast Boise with all five boroughs that comprise New York City – the most densely populated city in the nation.
According to the 2020 Census, New York City, overall, has approximately 19 dwelling units per acre. Boise’s currently allowed maximum density and proposed maximum density is at least twice that of New York City overall and about two thirds the density of Manhattan which has 63 units per acre.
After New York City, San Francisco is the second most densely populated city in the United States.
So why is Boise attempting to surpass both New York City and San Francisco in density? Do Boise residents really want to live in the most densely populated city in America? As a 45 plus year Boise resident, who grew up in Philadelphia proper, I don’t think so.
It is time to make both rational and realistic decisions about population density. 45 dwelling units per acre is neither rational nor realistic. The same goes for unlimited density. Perhaps 10 to 12 dwelling units per acre would be sufficient. Dwelling units per acre in that range are more than double the 2020 Census reported dwelling unit density for Boise and they are more than sufficient to support a transit system per St. Paul, MN Metropolitan Council guidelines.
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Apr 8, 2023, 10:39 pm
It’s a great idea, but we don’t have nearly enough violence and the cops are still arresting people. So there is so much more work to do tearing Boise down and building a new nirvana of wonderfulness.
Apr 9, 2023, 12:06 pm
Sort of related to density, WHY do the policy wonks in City Hall continue to believe that housing issues are contained within the city limits of Boise?
Also, what about sewer, water, gas and electrical infrastructure to support all these new units? More streets being torn up to replace/expand utility capacity. Is that what we want?
EDITOR NOTE–Utility companies are all asking for rat hikes to pay for their need to expand capacity. Growth pays for itself as long as the rates go up. Veolia water is asking for about 25% hike.
Apr 9, 2023, 12:10 pm
If you want to view 43 units on 3/4 of an acre drive by Vista and Targhee. All of the workers vehicles parked on Targhee will give you an idea of density on our streets.Hope no tenant has a need to plug in their electric vehicle?
Apr 10, 2023, 2:55 pm
The current density of Boise 1.8 units/acre. The Central Bench is around 5. Allowing 15-45 units/acre has not resulted in density rivaling New York in the past and will no do so in the future. Argue for/against upzoning all you want but the premise of this opinion piece is patently false.
Apr 12, 2023, 9:55 am
Most of Boise is R-1 zoning which ranges from 2-8 units/acre. Don’t know where your 15-45 is coming from
Apr 12, 2023, 2:21 pm
The 15 – 45 numbers are coming from current Boise City allowable densities and the proposed 611 page Zone Code Rewrite. There are tables within each document which show allowable densities and also how those densities might be increased if certain conditions are met.
For starters see:
Just about anyway you look at it, Boise densities (current and proposed) are either close to current NYC densities or exceed current NYC densities.
Apr 12, 2023, 5:28 pm
“Just about anyway you look at it, Boise densities (current and proposed) are either close to current NYC densities or exceed current NYC densities.”
Any way you look at it? Well damn my lying eyes then.
Apr 13, 2023, 10:55 am
Generally speaking I agree with your current Boise population density numbers and, if it were 2013 and not 2023, I might agree with your assessment that Boise will never get to those higher population densities. But it is 2023 and the proposed zoning code rewrite (ZCR), if adopted, will make major changes to Boise’s density.
High density projects are here already and more are proposed under current allowable densities. Some examples are noted below. The proposed ZCR actively encourages higher densities, particularly along bus routes. It even rewards them. So there’s no validity to your claim that “ … the premise of this opinion piece is patently false.” If anything, I respectfully suggest your premise is patently false.
Here are some current and proposed high density examples. Some might be in, or coming to, an area near you. Keep in mind that anything above 63 units per acre is more than the housing density of Manhattan, the most densely populated area in the nation.
In addition to the project mentioned by Frank above, there are two more 40 plus density projects approved for the Vista neighborhood. In addition, there is:
–80 plus proposal at Federal Way & Kootenai.
–Moda Franklin project on The Bench
–70 plus proposal by Grovers on W Franklin Road
–CWI proposal downtown
–six story project on Ash St downtown at a whopping 150 units per acre
–at least four other proposed or already approved high density / high rise projects downtown. And in the State St renewal area there’s pretty much no restrictions on density or height. So high density projects are already here and more are on the way.
Apr 13, 2023, 1:43 pm
RE: Editor’s Note on my previous:
Utility rate increases (borne by all users) caused by needing more capacity means we ALL pay for denser housing (which requires area-specific capacity increases). Why not make developers pay for those area-specific capacity requirements (and the trunk lines (sewer, water, electrical, roads)?
EDITOR NOTE–Well said! Also impose impact fees for schools which do not currently exist.